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Serious Cantonese?

Shing Kee and Tindo are long gone, and Fuleen's downhill, so I'm questing for homestyle Cantonese. I could resort to Wo Hop or Hop Kee, but I'd prefer a step up...good fresh seafood and a generous list of seasonal dishes, not just barebones (but it needn't be a Hong Kong palace, either).

Folks over the years have kept dragging me to NY Noodle Town, and I keep not liking anything about it (smell, service, or food), so that's out.

I've heard good things about Cheung Wong Kitchen, but never tried it.

Wasn't there a shiny new-generation Cantonese place similar to Funky Broome somewhere around SOHO/LES a while ago? Anything like that still in biz?

I'm also curious about China Pearl Seafood Restaurant, but of course that's all the way out in Elmhurst....

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        1. re: Simon

          +3 Cafe Hong Kong is very consistent and delicious.

          1. re: MrGrumpy

            +4 Cafe Hongkong for the crispy squid and roast chicken.

        2. re: Cheeryvisage

          Just skimmed the linked thread, and, yep, Cafe Hong Kong looks like the place I'm looking for. There's always one place like this in Chinatown, but every few years it closes and is replaced. I'm usually speedier at making that jump. Thanks for the assist!

          1. re: Jim Leff

            l tried a bunch of the dishes that were recommended on those threads [not the lobster, yet], and they're all *really* good. The salt & pepper squid or pork chop are both dynamite.

            1. re: Jim Leff

              im not sure how i just saw this, but if you're going to chinatown i'd recommend cafe hong kong

              aside from that you could go fuleen or oriental garden. there has been reports ping's is decent again, but its been a very long time since ive been there

              That said as diprey11 just said for what you really want, you either want to go East Lake / Imperial Palace or Lake Pavilion. Lake Pavilion actually has by far the biggest selection of more upscale seafood which is really what you need for great cantonese seafood, but i haven't gotten around to trying the more upscale seafood options yet



              Btw another place, which i can't vouch for is Royal Seafood. My friend went there with her parents and said it was surprisingly good. They have a new chef

              NY Noodletown and Cheung Wong are completely the wrong type of restaurants. Those are what bbq, noodle and congee restaurants.

              1. re: Lau

                Lau, can you recommend anything else at CHK besides what you already have? l tried the fried chicken with garlic, salt and pepper squid and pork chops, and Peking pork chops.

                1. re: howdini

                  hmm well unfortunately they didn't totally import over their menu from SCG. I do like the string beans as well. The fish can be good as it was in my report, but it really just depends on how good of quality the fish is (it can be muddy)

                  I've generally stuck to what i ordered in that post, i'm looking at the online menu now and these are some other things i'd check out (I have not tried these dishes, but just giving u an idea of things i would check out):
                  - T-bone steak
                  - Signature style lamb chops
                  - Lobster sizzling platter
                  - Baked lobster with cheese
                  - Fresh scallop on the shell (with garlic or black bean)
                  - Either of the crispy bean curd dishes
                  - Steamed pork with salted fish
                  - Beef with bitter melon (need to like bitter melon though)
                  - Clay pot casseroles: i would ask them which one they would recommend, i find those sorta hard to predict, the eggplant one looked amazing, but was just ok.

          2. re: scoopG

            For a really good Cantonese seafood, welcome to Flushing! There are two restaurants, both called the East Lake: one in Chinese and one in English. They have the same owner, can't go wrong with either.

            I like China Pearl in Elmhurst, they are one of the few last old-style Cantonese restaurants standing. However, the choice of live fish is much better @East Lake.

            With all due respect, NY Noodletown is not a seafood restaurant.

          3. I like Congee Village, but what about Oriental Garden? It is pricey but has excellent seafood.

                1. re: nomadmanhattan

                  Any favorites there? I'm actually within the delivery zone.....

                  1. re: Ttrockwood

                    I cannot certify the delivery - only been sit-down dinner. Seafood dish are pretty solid; Oysters with Bean Curd & Roasted Pig in Casserole and Crispy Roasted Squab..are good too.

                    1. re: nomadmanhattan

                      Absolutely. That oyster/bean curd/pig casserole is great.

                      Also good is the salt and pepper shrimp and salt and pepper squid.

                    2. re: Ttrockwood

                      i like the oyster casserole too. the peking pork chops are a bit oversauced so i ask for the sauce on the side. the beef flank casserole is also good.

                      1. re: SomeRandomIdiot

                        +1 Beef flank with turnips. Classic Canto.

                2. I haven't had any issues with Fuleen's the last couple times I've been, didn't notice any drop in quality. Did you have a bad experience there recently?

                  Certainly there are a lot places a step up from Wo Hop or Hop Kee... Oriental Garden (though they're at the pricier end), Ping's (though the menu is spotty, some dishes are standouts), Cafe Hong Kong...

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: sgordon

                    sgordon, Fuleen's was a big fave of mine for years, I know the menu by memory, but it's been merely fair every visit over past two years. Recently sent a friend (with great taste) there, and he said it was horrendous. That huge dip could have been an aberration, but, at least in my experience it's not what it was, just generally. But maybe you didn't know it back in the day (or maybe we just disagree!).

                    Swannee, thanks, Congee Village was the new-generation shiny place I was trying to think of.

                    diprey, I wasn't looking for a seafood restaurant. Just old-school Cantonese. Which, of course, includes seafood (except in pits like Wo Hop and Hop Kee, which, if they have seafood, probably wouldn't be, like, your best order!). Speaking of Flushing, I hear good things about Canton Gourmet.

                      1. re: Jim Leff

                        I've been going to Fuleen for a decade or so, though admittedly I've only been maybe twice in the last year - maybe I hit it on good nights? I go in phases, but I've found myself drawn to some of the more unique things on Ping's menu of late, and Cafe Hong Kong. But I still like Fuleen.

                        If you ever went to South China Garden back when they were open, CHK is the same crew.

                    1. Thanks for the post, Jim. I am also in search of authentic, old school Cantonese that could remotely match with what I have had in HK. Specifically, seafood restaurant.

                      I have been to couple Cantonese restaurants in Chinatown, including Amazing 88, Oriental Garden and previously Southern China Garden. But none of them are really up to par. Not just the presentation, but more important, the quality and freshness of the ingredients they used. The seasoning, IMO, are all too "thick" and "heavy" than what I used to in HK.

                      Anyone here can recommend a somewhat higher end Cantonese seafood restaurant in the city or in Flushing? Thanks!

                      18 Replies
                      1. re: nomadmanhattan

                        My advise is, in New York don't expect the quality you used to have in Hong Kong. That said, Radiance on 50th Street could be another option. It's one of "better" ones in New York. If you don't expect too much, you will be satisfied. :)

                        1. re: kosmose7

                          Have been there while my office was around Radiance. Thought they were Taiwanese-ish? I like their tea time offering too :)

                          1. re: nomadmanhattan

                            Ha ha. It's not 100% Cantonese but has some Cantonese dishes.

                            1. re: kosmose7

                              Know any place actually open at 10pm on Sat night? A friend wanted to try good Cantonese but he could not meet till that time......

                              1. re: nomadmanhattan

                                Wo Hop (Downstairs) and Great NY Noodletown are both open until the wee hours 4 AM???
                                Wo Hop is mostly Cantonese while Noodletown has several Cantonese dishes.
                                The food at Noodletown is much better.
                                At 3 AM they are both one of those great NYC experiences.

                                  1. re: Motosport

                                    I've got to strongly disagree on Wo Hop if you want to go some where good, go with Cafe Hong Kong as South China Garden was always good so you can't miss.

                                      1. re: Motosport


                                        Cafe Hong Kong
                                        (212) 608-5359
                                        51 Bayard St, Chinatown, New York, New York 10013
                                        Mon — Sun 11am — 11pm

                                        1. re: kathryn

                                          I don't trust those hours. My big three - Shing Kee, Tindo, and Fuleen's - were all open late. To this day, I think of Cantonese as late night food (I ate a LOT in those three places...to the point where Cantonese, more than anything, strikes me as my "home" cuisine).

                                          I'll try it anyway, though! :)

                                      2. re: michele cindy

                                        Wo Hop shouldn't even be allowed to call themselves a restaurant. They serve inedible slop

                                        1. re: AubWah

                                          Agreed. Except beef chow fun, ordered "well done", is actually really really good. Or, at least, was in like 1990. Which wasn't that long ago, was it?

                                          1. re: Jim Leff

                                            I used to think the same of the duck chow fun, but after my last visit which was in the last 3 months, I'm never going back.

                                            1. re: michele cindy

                                              You're right, I'm wrong. It was always duck chow fun (and it always had to be ordered well done).

                                              So even that dish is bad now?

                                              1. re: Jim Leff

                                                It was goopy. I've gone back every few years hoping it would get better, but it just gets worse. I just have to remind myself when I get the urge again to read this and go elsewhere.

                                    1. re: nomadmanhattan

                                      Congee village is open til 2am saturday

                                1. re: kosmose7

                                  Thanks for reminding me about this place

                              2. Cafe Hong Kong is where I'm going next. Don't EVER resort to Wo Hop. For the past 9 or so years years I go back every 3 or so years hoping it won't be as bad as my last visit, But sure enough each visit is worse than the previous. I'll never go back there again.

                                11 Replies
                                1. re: michele cindy

                                  At 3 AM Wo Hop is amazing. Otherwise there are many better options.

                                  1. re: Motosport

                                    At 3 AM NY Noodletown is even better.

                                    1. re: swannee

                                      Absolutely!!! But not if you want Cantonese!!

                                      1. re: Motosport

                                        But NY Noodletown is entirely Cantonese! The entire staff is Cantonese, the very genre, 4 kinds---飯粉粥麵--is Cantonese. But it isn't upscale Cantonese.

                                        1. re: swannee

                                          I've always thought of NY Noodletown as a noodle BBQ place.

                                          1. re: Motosport

                                            It is: a "4 Kind" place, a typical and pretty much uniquely Cantonese genre.

                                            1. re: swannee

                                              very very cantonese like a staple really

                                    2. re: Motosport

                                      I went during dinner time on most of the visits, perhaps they have a different crew as mentioned above it's been dismal each try.

                                      1. re: michele cindy

                                        It's sort of like the single guy or gal at the bar at 3 AM........

                                          1. re: howdini

                                            A 10 if you are wearing beer goggles!!!

                                  2. As l have been not living in Manhattan for a few years now, l wonder if Amazing 66 is still the great place it used to be.
                                    Remember the steamed chicken fondly.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                      Last time I was at A66 it was a bit underwhelming. I think Chef Chen Ge isn't there anymore. He was the one running the show around '08-'09 or so. I noticed a slide in quality a couple years ago and can't help but wonder if he's gone.

                                      1. re: sgordon

                                        i can't remember where, but i had heard the chef left a while ago and i heard it went downhill fairly bad although i haven't gotten around to going back, its been a long while since ive been there

                                    2. Generally our default for best all around Canonese is Oriental Garden. They do a very large business, tourists, locals, visiting Chinese.

                                      We used to go to Phoenix Garden when it was in the alley in Chinatown, many years ago. Then a few times when it moved uptown but haven't been in many years. It is good to know if they have gotten good again. Good midtown Cantonese is near impossible to find.

                                      1. My parents love Ken's Asian Taste, enough to eat there 3x a week.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Shirang

                                          oh yah? anything in particular they like there? i have still not eaten there

                                          1. re: Lau

                                            Usually they order the specials on the wall, they change pretty often, and of their fried rice dishes.

                                        2. You guys convinced me to try Cafe Hong Kong tomorrow for lunch. WHat should I order at Cafe Hong Kong?

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. I certainly won't quarrel with Cafe Hong Kong which is first by a mile. But I thought I'd throw in my choice for the second position though, 85 Restaurant on Chrystie (f.k.a. Yogee). The beef stew, rice noodle logs, fried fish skin, and fish fillet with sing gua are all very tasty.

                                            9 Replies
                                            1. re: Chandavkl

                                              Can you describe a rice noodle log? I've had rice noodles, where it's like a rolled rice sheet, filled with pork, shrimp etc. Is it similar? Those are one of my faves.

                                              1. re: michele cindy

                                                No, think of something like a short Lincoln log, made of rice instead of wood. Stew/sauce goes on top.

                                                  1. re: Lau

                                                    No, something in between the size and shape of a AA and a C battery.

                                                    1. re: Chandavkl

                                                      Chandavki, do 85 Restaurant's rice noodle rolls look anything like the ones in this photo? And under what name can they be found on the menu?

                                                      Dave Cook

                                                      1. re: DaveCook

                                                        Yes, that's him! Don't recall the exact description but their menu is short and I think it mentions both beef stew and some form of rice noodle.

                                                  2. re: Chandavkl

                                                    Sounds very good. I will look for them.

                                                    1. re: Chandavkl

                                                      Unfortunately, 85 Chinese Restaurant no longer offers rice noodle rolls, according to the fellow at the front counter.

                                                      Dave Cook

                                                  3. re: Chandavkl

                                                    Yogett is good. Excellent for the above dishes, also watercress with furu, casserole with chicken, beancurd and salt fish, other Cantonese standards. And very convenient to the Grand St, station!

                                                  4. Thanks for the idea. Just had a great lunch at Cafe Hong Kong with my husband. Everything was excellent.

                                                    1. Has anyone been to Shing Kee lately? I only been there couple years ago and never got chance to go again. Per my memory, the seafood, lobster specifically, was good.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. Sorry to say that I had a disappointing experience last night at Cafe Hong Kong. It wasn't a thorough examination - the ordering wasn't ideal - but, even so, I'm pretty sure this isn't what I was looking for (nor Ken's Asian Taste, which I also tried). See report at: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/920093d

                                                        18 Replies
                                                        1. re: Jim Leff

                                                          hey sorry u had a bad experience, responded in the other thread

                                                          1. re: Jim Leff

                                                            l tried that link...it was removed?

                                                            1. re: howdini

                                                              he accidently typed a d at the end, here's the proper link: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/920093

                                                                1. re: howdini

                                                                  Sorry....too late to edit now, alas. Thanks for fixing it, Robert...

                                                            2. re: Jim Leff

                                                              Cantonese food in New York has been waning for over 2 decades, coincident with the rise of the Fujianese population. Hakkasan and Cafe Hong Kong are clearly 1 and 2 in the category. Mrs. Chandavkl literally refused to come with me to New York earlier this year because South China Garden, Cafe Hong Kong's predecessor had closed, and in her mind there was nowhere to eat in New York.

                                                              1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                The Fujianese have always been here. They're just more out of the closet these days. Instead of pretending to make regional Chinese (or Chinese/American....which I also think of as a sort of regional Chinese) from other people's regions, they're actually making Fujianese food now.

                                                                Here's what I think has happened.

                                                                My observation about immigrant cuisines is that geographical flocking is strong. When a neighborhood gets a couple standout places, everyone else steps up their game....or else fades and is quickly replaced by a better operation. But the same flocking happens on the downside ...a race to the bottom, as they say.

                                                                When my three paragons closed down, leaving only Fuleen, the prevalent quality level bottomed out, and Fuleen never drew quite the buzz/reputation to anchor it all single-handedly. This was partially because other, newer and more exotic/sexy regions and trends were becoming popular, and Cantonese started to be seen as dowdy.

                                                                Eventually even Fuleen let quality droop, since they observed crappy places doing perfectly good business. No incentive to take the pains to be great.

                                                                If just two really good Cantonese places opened in Manhattan Chinatown, we'd see a flourishing. But opening great places requires talent, boldness and vision, and most restaurateurs lack have those qualities; they just flock to the prevalent level. Hence the current race to the bottom.

                                                                1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                  There has been a lack of influx of Hong Kong cooking talent into New York for maybe 20 years now. Chinese food evolves overseas and we need some of that evolution to be brought to the United States and Canada for the Chinese food here to improve. Even in California these days a relatively small percentage of the new Chinese restaurants are Cantonese. Being geographically closer to Hong Kong and Asia than New York, we still have high level Hong Kong/Cantonese food developing in California. Hakkasan aside, New York appears to be insulated from the progression and improvement in Cantonese food.

                                                                  1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                    While I agree that freshness of immigrants in an area can be a factor in the sharpness of a cuisine, I'd warn you against making too much of that. There are lots of other factors at play, and sometimes the very opposite can be true (Cono's in Williamsburg - a nabe with no Neapolitan arrivals in several generations - beautifully preserved an older style of Neapolitan cooking no longer available even in Naples; and I've heard 2nd and 3rd generation Southeast Asian restaurateurs complain that recent immigrants are so accustomed to shortcuts and western influences that there's no one from that pool to cook OR to enjoy "The Real Thing").

                                                                    The major factor driving NYC Cantonese quality down is, I think, less demographic than the hoary free enterprise principles I described above. If two good Cantonese places opened in Chinatown, the rising tide would float quality all around. There ARE people around who know how to cook it. They just need to be recognized, hired, and permitted/encouraged to do things the top-drawer way. Right now, that's not even a thing.

                                                                    1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                      Chinese as a culture are food obsessed, so they're always looking to improve their food. My rule of thumb is never go to Chinese restaurant that has been open more than 20 years. (Actually my rule was 15 years but Koi Palace in Daly City keeps reinventing themselves so I had to change my rule to fit them.) On this basis, best bet may be the more recently opened Hong Kong style eateries, such as Cha Chan Trang on Mott.

                                                                      1. re: Jim Leff


                                                                        It's inapt to compare Italian and Chinese culinary demographics.

                                                                        I think the general decline in Manhattan Chinese (all stripes, not just Fujianese or Canto or whatever), can largely be attributed to demand.

                                                                        Yes, the talent may (or may not) still be extant in Manhattan, but the lack of Chinese immigrant influx has essentially suppressed, or neutered, much of that talent -- leaving it derelict and dormant.

                                                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                          I think it can also be attributed to the factors stated in this article I just read. http://www.metro.us/philadelphia/news...

                                                                            1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                              this already happened to SF and LA chinatowns a long time ago. Its completely inevitable given chinatown's location in manhattan which is basically prime real estate. It will just move to flushing and brooklyn much like what has happened in SF and LA; chinese food is better than ever in both of those cities. hopefully NY can emulate that

                                                                              1. re: Lau

                                                                                Yes, LA and SF downtown Chinatowns ceased to be culinary destinations 15 to 20 years ago, though surprisingly a really good place opened up in SF Chinatown last year. At least NY Chinatown still has a lot of interesting places to eat.

                                                                            2. re: michele cindy

                                                                              I would say the Manhattan Chinatown has yet to go through the full gentrification phase -- same with the SF Chinatown.

                                                                              The LA Chinatown is currently in the beginning phases of gentrification. It'll probably reach its apex in about 3-5 years. Once it does -- and even now -- it bears very little resemblance to what people traditionally consider an American "Chinatown". That's not to denigrate it -- just pointing out a fact.

                                                                            3. re: ipsedixit

                                                                              I think it is just a matter of a shifting population. According to 2010 Census figures, the Chinese community in New York City grew by 33% from 2000, to over 475,000 today.

                                                                              The Chinese-American community makes up nearly half of all Asians in NYC. This growth is happening in the Outer Boroughs.

                                                                              For the first time, Sunset Park and Flushing both exceeded Manhattan Chinatown as neighborhood tabulation areas (NTA) with the most Chinese residents. (NTA is a NYC Dept. of City Planning designation). Today there are at least ten NTA’s in NYC with over 10,000 Chinese-Americans. Chinatown’s Chinese population shrank from 34,554 in 2000 to 28,681 in 2010 for a decline of 17 percent.

                                                                    2. re: Jim Leff

                                                                      Sorry your meal didn't work out well...

                                                                      I went last night (my 2nd visit) in a party of 3 -- one of whom is from Guangzhou and ordered for us in Cantonese...we had lobster w/ XO sauce, chicken w/ garlic, bitter melon, and salt&pepper softshell crabs -- all four dishes were wonderful...the chicken was improved from the first visit, when it was just so-so...

                                                                      For me, the primary dish at CHK is the lobster w/ XO sauce, so if you ever give it another chance, i'd recommend giving that one a try...cheers...

                                                                    3. Guys,

                                                                      Took a semi-date to Sing Kee late last night because he wanted some "authentic" cantonese. So we went and the only customers there since it was already 10ish. Service was good and tentative (I speak Cantonese with them but they could speak so so English too). We ordered lobster stired fried with ginger and scallions, steamed flounder (huge, 2.5 lb) and snowpea sprouts in chick broth and garlic. All were very fresh and tasty - you can taste the "dragon breath" from the lobster. I was thinking trying the steamed abalone too, but it was $75 per person I don't want to scare my date away :)
                                                                      All in all very good meal and solid home style Cantonese, though nothing outstanding. I would not compare these to the lobsters I have had in HK or Guangzhou, but very close. I am born and raised in HK and travel Asia extensively. My date was Italian from New York, but he owns couple Italian and seafood restaurants in New York and he liked the food last night especially the lobster. That speaks for the quality of the food at Sing Kee.

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: nomadmanhattan

                                                                        I like Sing Kee too. I've been there a few times and I think some of their dishes are just as good as, if not better than Cafe Hong Kong. I've had their steamed fish, lobster, and also a crispy chicken with preserved cabbage dish. Their menu is the same as "Danny NG's Place" which closed down a while ago.

                                                                        Chatham Square restaurant further south on Bowery isn't bad either...there's a decent number of old school Cantonese joints on Bowery that seem somewhat popular...

                                                                        1. re: pravit

                                                                          Yeah, agree. I found those on Bowery are, on average, better than those along Canal (concentrated between Baxter and Elizabeth).